Karma partners with online car-shopping platform

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Karma Automotive, the Chinese car manufacturer from Fisker Automotive Inc., is working with Drive Motors, an online auto-shopping and financing platform, in an effort to expand the scope despite the fact that the number of dealers is small.

"Our partnership allows us to expand Karma's retail footprint beyond our current local markets, offering unprecedented accessibility to potential customers in the United States," said Ehren Bragg, director of Karma's own store in Orange County, California, in a statement on Tuesday.

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In addition to the store in Orange County, Karma has 15 franchise cars in the United States and Canada. The Drive Motors platform was installed this month for use by the Orange County store. Although there is no fixed timeline for extending the platform beyond one location, it is probably possible in mid-2019, according to a spokeswoman.

Karma also plans to open three stores under its own management in California next year, and Bragg said that Drive will also be used there.

As soon as the Orange County store promotes advertising before the end of the year, Bragg expects 5 to 10 percent of the transactions to come from digital interactions via Drive Motors.

Aaron Krane, CEO of Drive Motors, told Automotive News that the partnership gives Drive Motors the opportunity to be involved in starting a dealer.

"Unlike existing OEMs, Karma has the ability to design a modern dealership," Krane said. "Karma is building dealers in 2018, not 1990 or 1960."

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Moreover, Karma, as a small car manufacturer, can quickly switch and be very decisive, he said.

In February 2014, certain assets of Fisker Automotive were taken over by the Chinese car-sharing conglomerate Wanxiang Group in a bankruptcy auction. Those assets became Karma Automotive.

Karma refused to announce sales figures for its only product, the Revero plug-in hybrid sedan.

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